Peony and Parakeet

Visual Chronicles and Fast Art Journaling

In the newsletter sent 5th November, I mistakenly sent a wrong link, here’s the link to the latest video

An art Journal page spread by Peony and Parakeet

In Finland, the weather got colder last week and I got a terrible flu. It is so frustrating to be able to do nothing but sleep. Being healthy feels so important then!

If there’s anything positive in lying down and doing nothing, it’s the creative break. It is weird how much processing time some things require. In 2006, I saw a new book in Amazon.com. It was called Visual Chronicles. It was nothing like I had seen before and I felt strangely drawn to it. I was mesmerized by the concept of creating relaxed pages combining text, paint, simple illustrations and photos. Art journaling was a new word in my vocabulary.

Visual Chronicles, an art journaling book by Linda Woods and Karen Dining

I took the book everywhere. While reading it, I tried to understand what it is actually about. I picked a blank book and tried to fill its pages. It was so disappointing to see how horrible my pages looked and furthermore, I did not have good time when I created them. I browsed the book over and over again. I could not get it!

But I did not give up. During the time I bought more books and made more experiments. I also noticed that there seemed to be other people doing the same thing. I took some online courses and finally… My first art journal was finished in 2010! (See the journal and my first blog post about art journaling)

Four years of agony! And now when I read Visual Chronicles, everything that I had learned stands there so clearly! However, there was still one thing that had been bothering me from 2006. The pages in the book are very simple and still I find most of them visually appealing. But if I tried to do the same, the end result was nothing alike.

After sleeping two full nights and the day between, I finally figured it out! It is the stamped journaling that makes the pages stand out in the book! I had never tried to stamp the words as I have always hated handling the alphabet stamps. But I do own two sets and had many pages waiting for journaling!

Using alphabet stamps in art journaling

Now I am hooked!

My mind is like a paradise, an art Journal page spread by Peony and Parakeet

“Sometimes my mind is like a paradise”

My life, an art Journal page spread by Peony and Parakeet

“My life, my problems”

Small changes, an art Journal page spread by Peony and Parakeet

“Small changes, big impact”

Swim like a bird, an art Journal page spread by Peony and Parakeet

“Swim like a bird”

Visual Chronicles by Linda Woods and Karen Dinino is still one of my favorite art journaling books. It does not take art journaling too seriously. Linda and Karen also have a blog which is written with the same humorous attitude. “If you are alive you have succeeded” is one of their recent advices. While still recovering, it feels very relevant at the moment!

Tips for fast art journal pages:
1) Divide the making of the page into three phases: a) doodling with a black pen b) coloring the doodles c) adding the text
2) Use colored pencils for easy coloring. A Moleskine Notebook and the colored pencils work really well together.
3) Add the text by grouping stamped words with the doodles. Use big and small stamps to create contrasts.
4) Let your personal history of art journaling get recorded into your journals! If I could turn back time, I would not toss those first pages.
5) Buy the book: Visual Chronicles

Art Journal Inspiration from Children’s Books

An art journal page spread by Peony and Parakeet. Read more about finding inspiration from children's books.

The art journal spread shown above is created from hand decorated papers, colored pencils, and markers. The main message here is “You can ride with your imagination in any way you want.” As it implies, I like my art journaling to capture dreams and fairy tales, not so much everyday life.

Mini-Worlds and Fantasies

I think that an art journal can be childish and playful. The way I see it, children’s books are the predecessors of them. Children’s books also combine illustrations and text to create mini-worlds and stories. I love to add both decorative and naive elements on the same page, and children’s books are great inspiration for that!

Read more about finding inspiration for art journaling from children's books.

I buy used children’s books from recycling centers. They cost only a few euros (few dollars). That is a fantastic value considering all the inspiration they can give. I pick the books that have a lot of good quality illustrations. As I love detailed drawings, I try to find books with sharp lines and many details. Browsing children’s books can be a good practice for finding your artistic style. Pick the books that you feel most drawn to and then list all the things they have in common. I prefer books that have matte pages because I sometimes create collages from them. Then it is good if I can draw or paint on them.

Illustrations from children's book and a collage by Peony and Parakeet. Read more about finding inspiration from children's books.

I made the collage on the right while teaching at a workshop last fall. It’s one of the pages where I have used the papers from children’s books. I often give few pages from various books for each participant of the workshop. It’s much easier to start creating when you don’t need to stare blank paper.

That little explorer resembles anyone who is entering the world of children’s books!

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Imitate Ceramic Art!

An art journal page by Peony and Parakeet. See the instructions on how to imitate ceramic art and ceramic tiles with correction pen and watercolors

A strange cat in the shadows.
Too many apples for the tree to bear.
A blackbird complains: Dry mouth!
Still, it’s a paradise: my garden.

This is an art journal page where I wanted to achieve two things:
1) imitate Scandinavian ceramic artists of 1940-1960s
2) write a poem and illustrate it

Scandinavian Ceramic Art

Annikki Hovisaari, a Finnish ceramic artistLet’s start with the artists: Annikki Hovisaari from Finland and Lisa Larson from Sweden. They are women who made beautiful ceramic art in 40s-60s. Annikki Hovisaari died in 2004 but Lisa Larson is still alive and she has a website too.

Me and my husband own a couple of Annikki Hovisaari’s work. We have bought those from antique fairs.

I found out about Lisa Larson in Scandinavian Retro magazine nr 1/2014. You can also see the best work of hers by searching from Google with the search term “Lisa Larson tile”

When I examined the work of these two artists, it was clear that a white correction pen would be perfect to imitate the lines. I made a couple of small pages by combining the correction pen with acrylic paints and PITT Artist Pens. However I was not fully satisfied with the outcome. These did not have the liveliness in color that I wanted to achieve.

An art journal spread by Peony and Parakeet

But after making these I realized how I would use the correction pen and what I would combine it with: watercolors! Here’s how you can create your own ceramic tile look!

1) Doodle with correction pen

Instructions on how to imitate the look of ceramic tiles, by Peony and Parakeet

2) Use watercolors for coloring

Instructions on how to imitate the look of ceramic tiles, by Peony and Parakeet

The correction pen works as a resist. You can watercolor over the white doodles. After painting add some water and wipe the paint off from the doodles.

3)  Add contrast and draw thin black lines

Instructions on how to imitate the look of ceramic tiles, by Peony and Parakeet

When you are done with watercolors, don’t stop yet. Add color variation and contrasts to doodled shapes. You can also work with colored pencils when finishing if it feels easier. Finally, take a thin black marker and add thin lines in the center of white doodles or both sides of the doodles. These lines will make your work look sharper and more dimensional.

Instructions on how to imitate the look of ceramic tiles, by Peony and Parakeet

Here you can see the difference that finishing makes. At this stage, I have also added the poem. Actually, my process began by writing the poem. I have discovered that if I want more depth in journaling, it’s better to write it first.

Have fun with this simple technique!

Instructions on how to imitate the look of ceramic tiles, by Peony and Parakeet

More ceramic art inspiration and playing with simple shapes
>> Modern Mid-Century art journaling mini-course

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